Astronomy Picture of the Day
May 19, 2014

Unusually-looking Landform on Mercury
Unusually-looking Landform on Mercury

Credits: NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Carnegie Institution of Washington and Dr Paolo C. Fienga/LXTT/IPF for the additional process. and color.

The so-called "Wrinkle Ridges" are Tectonic Landforms that have already been observed (almost) across all of Mercury's Smooth Plains Deposits, and are also often superposed by Impact Craters. The Craters themselves are frequently surrounded by Lobate-like Ejecta Deposits, which, at first glance, might look like Tectonic Structures, while - obviously - they are not.

In this image (taken by the NASA - MESSENGER Spacecraft on March, 6, 2014 and approx. 14 Km - such about 8,69 miles - across), a Lobate-like Surface Feature runs parallel to the Northern Margin (---> Outer Rim/Edge) of an Unnamed Impact Crater, approx. 20 Km (such as about 12,42 miles) in diameter. Whether this Landform is Tectonic or Impact-related is not yet clear but, with continued High-Resolution Imaging of other, similarly sized and shaped Impact Craters, we might be able, some time in the future, to find out the truth.

Date acquired: March, 6th, 2014
Image Mission Elapsed Time (MET): 36395675
Image ID: 5881419
InstrumentNarrow Angle Camera (NAC) of the Mercury Dual Imaging System (MDIS)
Center Latitude: 66,30° North
Center Longitude: 281,80° East
Solar Incidence Angle: 70,5° (meaning that the Sun, at the time that the picture was taken, was about 19,5° above the imaged Local Mercurian Horizon)
Emission Angle: 0,3° (meaning that the Spacecraft was almost perpendicular to the imaged Surface)
Sun-Mercury-Messenger (or "Phase") Angle: 70,2°

This picture (which is an Original NASA - MESSENGER Spacecraft's b/w and NON Map-Projected image published on the NASA - Planetary Photojournal with the ID n. PIA 18377) has been additionally processed, contrast enhanced, Gamma corrected, magnified to aid the visibility of the details and then colorized in Absolute Natural Colors (such as the colors that a human eye would actually perceive if someone were onboard the NASA - MESSENGER Spacecraft and then looked outside, towards the Surface of Mercury), by using an original technique created - and, in time, dramatically improved - by the Lunar Explorer Italia Team. Different colors, as well as different shades of the same color, mean, among other things, the existence of different Elements (Minerals) present on the Surface of Mercury, each having a different Albedo (---> Reflectivity) and Chemical Composition.

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